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Madrid eyes fresh dialogue with Catalonia after jailed separatists' trial

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Madrid eyes fresh dialogue with Catalonia after jailed separatists' trial
People hold banners demanding unity and acquittal for jailed Catalan separatist leaders during a demonstration in late September. Photo: AFP
10:25 CEST+02:00
Madrid hopes the upcoming ruling in the case of 12 Catalan separatist leaders will enable it to open fresh dialogue with the wealthy northeastern region, a junior minister said Tuesday.

Speaking just days before the Supreme Court is due to rule on the fate of those responsible for the abortive 2017 independence bid, Irene Lozano said she hoped the trial's end could provide fresh impetus to resume dialogue.

"It will be a good moment to re-open the door... and start to resolve the conflict politically," she told reporters.

But the looming verdict has hiked tensions in the region, with prosecutors calling for a harsh penalty that could see former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras facing up to 25 years behind bars for rebellion.

Lozano was appointed last year to head Global Spain, a public diplomacy agency set up by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government to defend the country's image abroad, particularly over the Catalan crisis.

There were many aspects "which fell within the remit of the Constitution", that could be discussed in terms of possibly increasing regional autonomy, she said, noting it was time "to reduce the tensions" in Catalonia.

But it was necessary for the pro-independence movement to "recognise the failure" of its strategy of "misinforming its own people" by promising them independence which never materialised.

Although staunchly opposed to any vote on independence, Sanchez has tried to talk with the separatists since taking power in June 2018.

But it quickly fell apart with the separatists withdrawing their support for Sanchez's government, which was forced to call new elections in April that did little to resolve the political deadlock.

The country will once again head to the polls next month for its fourth election in as many years, with the Catalan question a central issue in the campaign.

At the weekend, Sanchez said the Catalan separatist project had "failed", saying it had been "based on a pack of lies".

"When a false and exclusive idea about identity and democracy endangers... coexistence within society... there is clearly a failure, which is what has happened with the sovereignty movement in Catalonia," he said.

 
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